Tools and Toys


January 26, 2009

The 2009 Create Your Own Oscar Pool Page

The 2009 Create Your Own Oscar Pool Page is live.

If you notice anything amiss-bugs, broken links, wrong nominees, typos--mention it in the comments, or drop me a line at

January 29, 2008

The 2008 Create Your Own Oscar Pool Page

The 2008 Create Your Own Oscar Pool Page is live.

If you notice anything amiss-bugs, broken links, wrong nominees, typos--mention it in the comments, or drop me a line at

July 02, 2007

100 Words

The editors of the American Heritage dictionary recently compiled a list of "100 words they recommend every high school graduate should know."

I always like to check out lists like this, and see how many of the entries I am already familiar with. The answer is, invariably, "nearly all of them." Not because I have a stellar vocabulary, but because I cheat.

Not on purpose, of course. But, when performing this exercise, I'm always struck with "well that's what I meant" syndrome. You know how it goes. You see the word, you say to yourself "that means X," you check the definition, and when it turns out that it actually meant Y, you say, "ah, well, that's I meant. And, jeeze, X and Y are practically the same thing ... so, I'm going to give myself this one." By the time I'm done, I have magnanimously "given" myself all of them, and have no idea how many I actually knew before I started.

So this time I tried something new: I wrote down my definitions first, and then compared them to the actual definitions afterwards. You can see the results in the comments.

If you'd like to do the same, here's a little tool I wrote. First, select how many words from the American Heritage list you'd like to get tested on. (I wouldn't recommend 100--that took me forever--but 23 is good.) You will then be given the opportunity to provide your definitions for each. You can then grade yourself, in comparison to the actual meanings. Lastly, the script will print out a final report, which you can then put in the comments of this psot on your own site. (Apparently Movable Type strips tables from comments, so posting 'em here ain't gonna work after all.)

By providing your own definitions first, you should get a somewhat more accurate picture of how many of the words you could truly use correctly in a sentence. But if you just want to grade yourself without providing your own definitions first, you can do that instead. Whatever. We aim to please.

How many words?

You can find my results here (but, if you intend to test yourself, don't look until you have done so, as the definitions of the words appear on that page).

February 14, 2007

It's Never Too Late ...

... to throw together a last minute Oscar Pool.

Well, actually, as of February 26th it will be too late ...
January 27, 2007

2007 Make-Yer-Own Oscar Pool Page

The 2007 Make-Yer-Own Oscar Pool Page is ready to go. A big thanks to everyone who helped test it out. And if anyone else notices further bugs or errors, be sure to drop me a line.

(Oh, and keep those cliches coming. Still haven't decided what to do with them all, but I've been getting some great ones!)

August 24, 2006

February 03, 2006

Make-Yer-Own Oscar Pool Page

The Make-Yer-Own Oscar Pool Page is up and running at I made some changes to the back-end, so let me know if you find any bugs, experience any bugs, or have any suggestions.

Update: Should be working fine, now. Let me know is that's not the case.

April 27, 2005


I want to drive a phenomenal amount of traffic to my site, but I don't want to go through the bother of writing something funny or clever or thought provoking. So maybe I'll try my hand at spawning a blogmeme instead.

These are my URL ABCs:

How to find your URL ABCs: Type the letter 'a' into your location bar, copy the first URL that your browser autosuggests as a completion, and paste it into the corresponding field below. Repeat for letters 'b' through 'z'. You may add a comments as well, but they are not required. You can skip a letter if you'd like, or you can supply a comment for a letter even if you omit its URLs (to explain that nothing came up for that particular letter, for instance). When you are done, click 'Format My URL ABCs' and this script will return the HTML code you can paste in the comments of the URL ABCs post , use on your own site, or print it out and enclose it with your next Kelly Osbourne fan letter. Whatever.

Letter URL Comment

List my URL ABCs as a bulleted list: yes no

Print comment following URL (e.g. "A is for -- I love my iPod!"):
yes no

Use comment as link's title attribute (e.g. "A is for "):
yes no

Note: This may only be an interesting exercise with Firefox or Mozilla, both of which offer autosuggestions in descending order of last accessed (the sorting algorithm may also take the frequency of access into account as well). I don't know what IE does. If it just cough up URLS in alphabetic order -- and, after a little experimentation with my rarely used copy of IE, I think this might be the case -- then picking the first one off the top doesn't really reveal much about you.

Update: I just realized that my spam filter -- which automatically blocks comments that contain > 20 hyperlinks -- has been preventing people from posting their ABCs in the comments. Sorry about that -- the filter has been temporarily disabled.

February 18, 2004

Make-Yer-Own Oscar Pool Page

Okay, the 2004 Make-Yer-Own Oscar Pool Page is up and running. Sorry I got it out so soon before the awards this year, but, until yesterday, I didn't realize they'd moved the ceremony all the way up to February.

If you find any bugs or have any suggestions, please let me know by email or in the comments to this post. Thanks.

February 11, 2004

I Never Thought I'd Say This But I'm Starting To Miss Ari

Ask White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan About Bush's National Guard Record!

May 09, 2003

defective yeti Momalizer

The problem with journalism today is that it's all so damned depressing: North Korea has nukes, the US has deficits, Harrison Ford is dating Calista Flockhart, and so on. Just skimming the Yahoo! News page is enough to induce an anxiety attack. If only there was some way to soften the blow ...

Well now there is! Just enter your email address below*, select the news story you wish to read, and the defective yeti Momalizer will put it into the most comforting format possible: a friendly email from your dear old mom.

Enter your email address:
* You email address will not be used for evil ** . If fact, it's not even stored anywhere. ** For real.
January 02, 2003

What Venomous Egg-Laying Mammal Are You?
What Venomous Egg-Laying Mammal Are You
Personality Test
Find out, by answering these ten questions.
The most important personality trait is :
In new situations, I :
I enjoy books and movies that are :
Do you wanna make out? :
If I could be any animal, I'd be :
My favorite digit of pi is :
Peanut butter :
And the bartender says :
No way :
When confonted with a difficult decision, I usually choose :
September 06, 2002

Vocabulary Bookmarks

Here's something vaguely cool.

As I read books, I try to jot down any words I encounter with meaning unknown or unclear to me. Later I look these words up, in the hopes of Increasing My Word Power and allowing me to understand novels written by Don DeLillo. That's the idea, anyhow. Back in the good old days I would write unfamiliar words on the inside of the back cover, but now that I have become a Cheap Bastard and get all my books from the library this is no longer an option. For a while I lugged around a small notebook for this purpose, but it didn't take long to lose that. And I've often thought about carrying a Palm Pilot to record words, but the downside with this plan is that it would require me to carry a Palm Pilot and then I would be a dork. What to do?

Well, this is my newest cockeyed scheme. I whipped up some bookmarks, printed them onto card stock (which turned out to be unneccesary -- regular weight paper works fine), cut them out and now use while reading, one per book. Each section on the bookmark has three fields: the first for the word itself, followed by a small dash where you can write the page number where you found it. Below this are two lines where you can either write the definition or the context in which the word was found. Each section also has a small box in the upper-right hand corner.

This is how I'm using them. I record unknown words as I read, look them up after I've finished the book and write the definitions down in the space provided. Then I tape the bookmark to the side of my computer monitor. Whenever I manage to use one of the words (in email or whatever) I check the box to reflect this fact. In this way I do all three of the things that I have found are necessary for me to retain the memory of new words: looking it up, writing it down, and employing it in conversation.

*shrug* I dunno, it might work. The bookmarks are pretty useful, but my use of them is currently desultory at best. (Woohoo! Checkmark!) Here's a PDF file of the bookmarks if you'd like to try this system for yourself.

Update Email:

Let me get this straight: You're a dork if you use a palm pilot, but not a dork if you design and make your own bookmarks?
He may have a point. But I'm going to steadfastly refuse to acknowledge it.

August 23, 2002

Jell-o Brand Pudding Pops Googlefucker

Oh hey: talking about pastimes I created and the mellifluous word "fucker" reminded me that I invented the most addictive Internet game of all time, although, for some unfathomable reason, it has failed to catch on as of yet. Remember Googlewhacking, where you would try and find two words which, when entered into Google, would result in only a single hit? Yeah, well my soon-to-be-insanely-popular meme is exactly like that, except totally different. Now the goal is to find a Googlefucker: a two word phrase in the form "_______ fucker" which, when entered into Google (enclosed in quotation marks), results in only one hit. Like, you know, "sofa fucker" or "toothpaste fucker".

Try it. This is gonna be the Next Big Internet Craze, and you'll wanna get in on the ground floor. Not only is it a great way to waste time, but you'll also have a blast trying to explain to your wife why, when she typed ma into Google, Internet Explorer helpfully suggested "mango fucker" as a completion.

" fucker"     
Update: Great news! Someone at the Jell-O company saw this entry and forwarded it on to his bosses. Well, they agree that Googlefucking is poised to become the Hugest Internet Fad Of Forever, and have agreed to sponser me! I can't tell you how much they're paying, but let's just say it's well over $50. So the site I'm working on,, will be hosted on their servers, and promoted on the Jell-O Brand Pudding Pops boxes and everything. The only catch is that now, if you find a Googlefucker and are bragging about it on your blog or to your friends, you can't just call it a "Googlefucker" anymore, you hafta say "Hey Carl, did you know that the phrase "Unix Fucker" is a Jell-O Brand Pudding Pops Googlefucker?" So be sure to do that, okay?
Update: Someone at Jell-O looked up "fucker" in the dictionary and found out that's it's quote-unquote "vulgar". So the deal's off.
July 31, 2002

Text-only Yahoo! Groups FIlter

I wrote a no-frills, text-only filter for the Yahoo! Groups with open archives. It is available here.

July 25, 2002

Broken -> Fixed

I just discovered that The Create Your Own Memepool Post Tool was broken. But I'm pretty sure I fixed it.

I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a beer.
Yes, that's better. Hooray for me.

May 02, 2002

Heartless Bastard?
Take The Online "Am I A Heartless Bastard" Quiz!

A few years ago my wife and I were sitting on the couch watching a baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and the Yankees, and just as designated hitter Chili Davis stepped up to bat, my wife (who was really my girlfriend at the time) got up and went into the bedroom and returned with one of the comforters from our bed draped around her shoulders and when she sat back down I said "were you chilly?" and she said "I was so chilly I was Chili Davis!" and then we both laughed and snuggled, and even to this day we will still say "I am Chili Davis" when one of us is cold.

1. I thought this story was
February 21, 2002

Create Yer Own Memepool Post

Now you can whip up a link-intensive weblog post just like the pros over at memepool using the Create a memepool Post Tool!

February 19, 2002

The Make-Yer-Own Oscars Pool Poll

The Make-Yer-Own Oscars Pool Poll Page enables you to whip up an Internet-based poll for your Academy Awards party or contest in just seconds. Just plug in your name and email address, distribute the generated URL, and your friends will be able to use your page to send your their Oscar predictions via email. Why? Because you are my best friend. Don't say I never gave ya nuthin'.

January 27, 2002

Googlewhacker 74 Zillion

Enter two common words into the Googlewhacker 74 Zillion and it will instamagically tell you if you have stumbled upon that most ellusive of beasts, the Googlewhack.

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